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These days buying computer parts has become an excruciatingly difficult job due to cryptocurrency mining craze, and scalpers buying anything they find available in stock. Ordinarily, building a PC by yourself was always more cheaper and efficient then purchasing a prebuilt computer. However, things have drastically changed in the last half year, and prebuilt computers nowadays offer better system specifications, and more convenience, while costing much less then DIY PC builds.
Read also: The Best Laptops for $500: Complete Guide
For $500 you can buy a decent desktop computer. It won’t be a big and mean gaming machine, but it will suffice for playing some casual and eSports games, as well as for office work and home use. With this kind of computer you’ll be able to easily play 4K videos, edit multiple Excel spreadsheets, and make Zoom calls. Compared to DIY PC builds, prebuilt desktop computers come with pre-installed operating system, which is nice if you don’t like bothering with installing Windows 10 on your machine. Another cool thing about prebuilt desktop computers is that some of them come bundled with a keyboard and a mouse, so you can save some money on buying those extra peripherals.
Most desktop computers for $500 come with relatively powerful and efficient Intel and AMD processor (CPU) that feature multiple processing cores and high clock speeds. Since dedicated graphics cards (GPUs) nowadays cost a lot of money, most of these CPUs feature integrated graphics solutions which aren’t as powerful as full-sized GPUs, but are capable of delivering decent performance. Speaking of system memory, most desktop computers nowadays feature at least 8GB of DDR4 memory, and come with a high-speed solid-state drive (SSD). The only disadvantage of buying prebuilt desktop computers is that they’re much more difficult to upgrade compared to DIY PCs. However, this is a small price to pay given the convenience you get by purchasing such a computer.
In this guide we’ll show you the best desktop computers under $500 that are currently available on the market. In case you’ve already figured out that you prefer laptops over desktops, be sure to read our article about the best Chromebook laptops in 2021.
Best for Gaming:
Best Budget HTPC:
Best Overall: Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91
CPU: Intel Core i3-10100 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics 630 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2.666 MHz) | Storage: 512GB NVMe SSD | OS: Windows 10 Home
- Fast processor
- Large SSD drive
- Onboard Wi-Fi 6
- Features DVD-RW writer
- Mediocre gaming performance
The Acer Aspire TC-895-UA91 is probably the best desktop computer under $500 you can get right now. This PC comes with the latest 10th Gen Intel Core i3-10100 processor which features 4 cores and 8 processing threads, as well as with 8GB of very fast DDR4 memory, and an ultra-fast 512GB NVMe solid-state drive. This PC is also equipped with 8X DVD-RW writer, as well as with onboard Intel Wi-Fi 6 module which allows you to connect to your local area network without any LAN cables.
From additional features, it is worth mentioning that the Acer Aspire comes with Bluetooth 5.1 module, and has one USB 3.2 Type-C connector, and two USB 3.2 Gen1 Type-A connectors, as well as two HDMI ports. Speaking of its gaming performance, this PC can run games such as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends with more than 90 FPS on average at 720p resolution. In other, more demanding games, such as GTA V or Fortnite, this PC does struggle a little bit, as it can deliver only around 45 FPS on average. Overall, this is a very fast desktop computer for performing some office work, or browsing the web and watching videos, so be sure to get one while its in stock.
Best for Gaming: Dell Optiplex 790
CPU: Intel Core i5-2600 | GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 | RAM: 16GB DDR3 (1.333 MHz) | Storage: 128GB SSD + 500GB HDD | OS: Windows 10 Home
- Decent gaming performance
- 16GB of DDR3 memory
- Features both an SSD and HDD
- Ships with 4-in-1 gaming peripherals set
- Features 2nd Gen Intel Core processor
For a budget of $500 it is quite difficult to find a decent gaming computer. Luckily enough, there is Dell Optiplex 790. Although this desktop computer features a rather old quad-core Intel processor, it comes with a dedicated NVIDIA GeForce GT 1030 graphics card, as well as with a whooping 16GB of DDR3 memory. As such, the Optiplex 790 is a perfect desktop PC for entry-level gaming, since it can deliver up to 130 FPS in Minecraft and League of Legends at 1080p resolution, as well as up to 60 FPS in Rocket League and Fortnite on low settings at 1080p resolution. This computer also comes with a 128GB SATA3 SSD, as well as with a large 500GB hard disk drive which allows you to store all of your data and games.
The Optiplex 790 ships with a 4-in-1 Periphio gaming set which includes an RGB mechanical gaming keyboard, a 10,000 DPI gaming mouse, a USB 7.1 Surround Gaming Headset, and a black mouse pad. This computer also comes with a pre-installed Windows 10 Home operating system, and it also features an optical DVD-RW drive. Provided that you are looking for a good gaming computer on a tight budget, the Dell Optiplex 790 is the perfect choice for you.
Best Budget HTPC: Lenovo 510A Desktop
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3200G | GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 8 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2.666 MHz) | Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD | OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
- Fast CPU
- Great integrated graphics solution
- Features SD card reader
- Bundled mouse, keyboard, and mouse pad
- Doesn’t feature discrete graphics card
The Lenovo 510A is a perfect budget desktop computer for users who want to get themselves a home theater entertainment system. The Lenovo 510A comes with a snappy and efficient AMD Ryzen 3 3200G processor, which features powerful Radeon Vega 8 integrated graphics solution. The Radeon Vega 8 is powerful enough to decode 4K videos at 60 FPS with both VP9 and HEVC codecs, and can be even used for some lightweight gaming, such as playing Rocket League or League of Legends. The Lenovo 510A also comes with 8GB of DDR4 memory, and it features a 256GB M.2 SSD drive.
Great thing about this budget desktop computer is that it comes with 1-year warranty, and it ships with genuine Windows 10 Pro operating system. It is also worth mentioning that this PC comes with a DVD-RW drive, as well as with an SD card reader, and is bundled with a high-quality mouse pad, Lenovo wired mouse, and Lenovo wired keyboard. Overall, this is a very fine desktop computer, and if you don’t mind the fact that it lacks a discrete graphics card, you should definitely get it as soon as you can.
Best AIO PC: HP 24 All-in-One PC
CPU: AMD Ryzen 3 3250U | GPU: AMD Radeon Vega 3 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2.400 MHz) | Storage: 256GB M.2 SSD + 1TB HDD | OS: Windows 10 Home
- Good system performance
- Beautiful 24-inch IPS display screen
- Plenty of storage space
- Built-in speakers and webcam
- Bundled peripherals
- Not suitable for gaming
- Difficult to repair
The HP 24 is a sleek and compact All-in-One desktop computer that blends outstanding processing power with the beauty of a slim, three-sided borderless Full HD display for one efficient device designed to deliver the best user experience possible. The HP 24 is able to offer plenty of features for an attractively affordable price. It features a snappy AMD Ryzen 3 3250U processor with Radeon Vega 3 integrated graphics, 8GB of DDR4 RAM, and a beautiful 23.8-inch IPS anti-glare WLED-backlit display screen. However, the HP 24 exceeds all expectations in the storage department, as it features one super-fast 256GB M.2 solid-state drive, and one 1TB hard disk drive.
The HP 24 can also boast with the fact that it features an integrated optical DVD-RW drive, a 3-in-1 memory card reader, a set of built-in stereo speakers, an onboard Wi-Fi 5 module, and a webcam. This all-in-one computer also comes with two USB 3.0 ports, one audio port, and one HDMI port. The HP 24 also comes bundled with HP’s wired mouse and keyboard, which are nice additions. Overall, the HP 24 AIO desktop computer give you the best bang for the buck, and if you prefer simplicity over upgradeability, then this is the best PC for you.
Best for Business: HP Z440 Business Workstation
CPU: Intel Xeon E5-1603 v3 | GPU: NVIDIA Quadro NVS 310 | RAM: 8GB DDR4 (2.133 MHz) | Storage: 500GB HDD | OS: Windows 10 Pro 64-bit
- Powerful processor
- Discrete graphics card
- Plenty of USB ports
- Very cheap
- CPU doesn’t support Hyper-threading technology
If you think that it’s impossible to get a workstation business PC for less than $500, then you’re wrong! Let us introduce you to HP Z440, a budget workstation computer featuring a quad-core server-grade Intel Xeon E5-1603 CPU. Built specifically for small to medium business, this is a perfect desktop computer that allows you to create your own private server, a NAS storage solution, or an easy-to-use workstation machine. This computer also features NVIDIA’s Quadro NVS 310 graphics card, which is great for simple CAD/CAM designing, or creating multi-display setups.
The HP Z440 comes in a robust professional-looking black chassis, and it features multiple USB 3.0 and USB 2.0 ports for improved connectivity. This computer also comes with multiple expansion slots which allow you to upgrade its components, and it comes with native RAID support for both SATA and SAS storage drives. The PC comes bundled with HP’s keyboard and mouse, and it ships with genuine Windows 10 Pro 64-bit operating system.
Best Mini PC: CHUWI CoreBox Pro
CPU: Intel Core i3-1005G1 | GPU: Intel UHD Graphics | RAM: 12GB LPDDR4 | Storage: 256GB PCIe NVMe SSD | OS: Windows 10 Home
- Compact dimensions
- Sleek chassis design
- Thunderbolt 3 connectivity
- 4K video encoding
- Weak integrated graphics solution
- Lack of proper documentation and driver support
The CHUWI CoreBox Pro is a small yet powerful portable workstation PC. It features a dual-core, 4-thread Intel Core i3-1005G1 desktop processor, a whooping 12GB of LPDDR4 memory, and an ultra-fast 256GB NVMe solid-state drive. Thanks to its powerful system components, this mini PC can easily handle creating big and complex documents, as well as serve as a graphical designing platform. The CoreBox Pro also support 4K video encoding, as well as DirectX 12 API. Speaking of other features, this mini PC comes with Thunderbolt 3 connectivity option, as well as with onboard Intel Wi-Fi 6 module, and pre-loaded Windows 10 Home operating system.
In case you find its 256GB SSD drive too small, the CHUWI CoreBox Pro allows you to install an additional 2.5-inch HDD into its expansion bay, which is a nice feature. This PC can also boast with two Gigabit Ethernet ports, four USB ports, one DisplayPort, and support for eGPU performance extension. Overall, the CHUWI CoreBox Pro is a great budget PC for creating a home theater PC, as it allows you to run different operating systems and applications such as Linux, KODI, or PlayStation emulators.
Finding a powerful and reliable desktop PC for $500 is extremely hard these days. Prices of PC hardware have sky-rocketed due to the global supply shortage, COVID-19, and cryptocurrency craze. However, not all is so grim. In fact, you can buy a high-performance desktop PC even now, however, you must keep your eyes peeled, as most of the good stuff goes out of stock pretty quickly. The best desktop PCs under $500 in 2021 we’ve shown you here are all decent machines. Although they won’t allow you to run the latest games at 60 FPS on ultra quality, they will most certainly enable you to achieve enjoyable gaming experience, and improve your overall workflow. We hope our buying guide helped you in search of the information you were looking for. If you still feel confused, and need advice about buying, feel free to post a comment below. We will try to help you.